Posts Tagged ‘tutorial’

Bartering Mittens for Leeks

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Earlier this month, while behind the scenes at a choir concert, I was busy working away on a pair of fox and geese mittens.  We need to keep quiet while we’re not on stage, and there’s nothing worse than sitting quietly doing nothing, so I usually make sure that I have a project with me to work on.  Most often, it’s mittens.  They’re so nice and portable.  long cuffs

Lately I’ve adapted the fox and geese pattern to make a more narrow longer cuff, and since I really don’t enjoy ribbing, I’ve been doing a Latvian braid at the cuff to prevent the mitten edge from rolling.

Latvian Braided cuff: cast on in main colour, join in the round.

Row 1: K1 MC, K1 CC around

Row 2: bring both working yarns to the front.  Purl 1 MC, P1 CC around (the colours line up with the colours from the row before), but always wrap the yarn in the same direction i.e. always take the next colour from underneath the other.  It will make the balls of yarn appear to get all snarled up, but do not untangle them, it will all be resolved in the next row.

Row 3: with both working yarns still at the front.  Purl 1 MC, P1 CC around (the colours line up still).  This time though, let the balls of yarn unwind themselves.  i.e. always take the next colour from on top of the other.  At the end of the row everything should reveal a nice neat braid, with 2 balls of yarn untangled.

Row 4: put working yarn to the back, and start the mitten pattern.

braided edge

Anyway, at this past concert, I was approached by a lovely lady who asked me who I was making the mittens for.  She suggested that they should be for someone who gives me leeks.  (She’s been providing my mom with squash and other veggies for the past few years, so I took the hint.)  I let her know that I was interested in that idea, but that I’d need recipes since I’d never cooked leeks before.

warm handsA few weeks later and she’s got mittens, and I’ve got leeks!  leeksI made a delicious leek and potato soup that I invented based loosely from recipes I found online.  It’s yummy!

3 peeled potatoes
2 leeks
1 soup cube
1 cup of skim milk
shredded mozzarella cheese

Peel and cut potatoes, cut leeks, and boil in water until cooked and mushy.  Add a soup cube and milk.  Blend with immersion blender.  Add garlic, and pepper.  Served warm with shredded cheese on top.

Somehow this soup seems extra wholesome since I know where the veggies came from.  I know they were raised with love.

Drive Band Installation

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to change a drive band.  I was a little concerned because I would have to take my spinning wheel apart, or cut and refasten the drive band.  I searched online and found a tutorial that made the process look fairly simple. The process of replacing a drive band is simple– it is also not anything like what this tutorial claimed either.  Perhaps it’s because I have a single treadle wheel and the tutorial seems to be for a double treadle.

In any case, all I needed was a flat head screw driver.  I decided that because I have one treadle, and one piece of surgical tubing that connects the treadle to the footman (and the wheel) that I would undo the screw that connects the tube to the treadle, and insert the loop of drive band there, and then put the screw back in.  In a matter of minutes I’m ready to go again!  Thanks so much to Paradise Fibers for the speedy delivery of my new drive bands!

I’m taking advantage of the day at home to give it a test drive.  Back to work and robots tomorrow.

How To Knit A Thumb

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

For the last few days I’ve been having a rather challenging time explaining how to make a mitten thumb via email.  Here’s some pictures to go along with my words.  Hopefully they will help my friend Shawna, and others working on the same issue.

To make a mitten fit your hand, you need to make it larger on the thumb side.  The regular increases create what is called a thumb gusset.

image source

Here’s an interesting photo tutorial: I’ve got a hard time photographing my thumb gussets since I knit in the round, on DPNs.  I don’t know that I’d ever knit a mitten on two needles, but it’s neat to know that it can be done.

Once the gusset is long enough and wide enough, I always get someone to try on the mittens to check, I put the gusset stitches on a scrap of yarn and leave them until the hand of the mitten is done–I finish by knitting the thumb.

So, the gusset stitches are on a scrap of yarn, and you are ready to knit the hand.  My general pattern is to cast on several (note: this will change depending on gauge) stitches to finish off the thumb hole on the upper side.  To cast on these stitches, it’s probably easiest to turn the mitten over (so the wrong side is facing) and cast on, then turn back again.

When it finally is time to knit the thumb, you will use the stitches from the scrap of yarn, the stitches that you just cast on (pick them up).  This would make a nice mitten, but over the years that I’ve been knitting mittens I’ve had a pet peeve about holes appearing where the thumb meets the hand.  To avoid this issue, I pick up an extra stitch from a row back between the gusset stitches and the cast on stitches on either side of the thumb.

Here’s a view of me trying it on for size.  Click to make bigger.

thumb stitch count = gusset stitches + cast on stitches


thumb stitch count = gusset stitches + cast on stitches + 2

There are, of course, many ways to knit a thumb.  I’m eager to learn more.  What’s your favourite method?

P.S. Yes, this is mitten number 2 for my secret santa.  It’s been slow going.  Things like sleeping, cleaning, singing and holiday preparations have gotten in my way a bit.  I am here still, enjoying my holidays.  Thanks so much for the comments of concern!

Snowy Days

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Don’t you miss snow days?  Remember when you were a kid, and the snow started to fall, and you just KNEW that school busses would be cancelled, and you could stay home and build a fort or have a snow fight and then sit and drink hot cocoa with gooey marshmallows floating on top?

Snow is falling, but there’s no snow day.  Life and work and responsibilities continue…and so to does the parade of hats!

This hat is special because part of it is made with sparkly yarn.  This is a great stash busting hat.  It has randomly assorted two-row stripes of many different colours of blue/purple  yarn.

This hat has robots that are worked in stripes.  When using this type of colourwork, it is important to have a background colour that contrasts really well with the foreground colour.  I made sure that if the background was light purple, the robot would be dark blue.  The robots are more subtle on this hat, but the colours are really pretty.

This hat was a fun one to create.  I had been looking at a stitch dictionary, and got inspired!

The bows are rather tedious to make!  I worked one row of (K1, wrap 3) around.  The next row I knit the stitches that were originally knit, and removed the wrapped stitches.  I tied the loopy fringey bits together to make these little bows.

The ruffle was made by knitting 3 then casting on 6 stitches all the way around.  After knitting 4 (really long) rounds, I knit 3 then cast off 6 all the way around.  This creates pocket like holes in the hat.  I think they might be the right size to hold useful things like pencils or small screwdrivers.  We’ll have to try out that theory later!

The bobbles were made by increasing 3 stitches in one stitch, turning purling the 3 stitches, turning, increasing in each of the 3 stitches, turning purling all 6 stitches, turning, knitting 2 together across the 6 stitches, turning, purling 3 stitches together, turning, continuing with knitting the row…I worked a bobble with 3 or 4 stitches between.

The fringe was worked in the same K1, wrap 3 method as I did for the little bows.  To keep the fringe hanging loosely, and not just stretching to become a really loosely knit row, I ended up knitting the fringe stitch along with a stitch the row or two below.

The flower at the top was worked as an icord of 2 stitches.  I worked about 3 inches of icord, then knit it together with the next stitches, all around the hat.  I will use this technique again for sure.  I really like the effect.

I don’t know many people that could wear a hat with ALL of these special features on it.  I know that the recipient has enough team spirit and self confidence to make it one of the coolest hats on the team.

As the snow keeps falling, I keep knitting, and wishing for a day that I could avoid responsibilities and schedules, throw a few snowballs and curl up with a mug of cocoa and my knitting, and watch the snow pile up outside.

A Hat With Ears!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Want an easy way to make a hat with ears?

It’s simple!  Cast on enough stitches to go around your head, then just keep going!

Knit until the hat is about 10 inches long.  It should look approximately like a square.  Finish the top in kitchener stitch.

Since this is for our robotics team, I sewed on the team number after weaving in all the ends.

If “ears” are not what you’re looking for, you could attach pompoms, or bells and make a very simple jester hat (with only two points).


Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Last week was a busy, stressful one.  The clock change, deadlines at work, stress about an upcoming robotics tournament, fighting off a cold, all contributed to me losing quite a bit of sleep.  I saw 3:00AM roll past 3 days in a row!  To destress I ended up spending a few minutes here and there knitting ruffles….or actually one rather large ruffle!

It’s long enough to be a scarf!  I started, without any real idea of how to make the kind of ruffles I had in my mind.  I knew I wanted one long corkscrew of ruffle going around and around a hat.  Easier said than done!

From my limited knowledge of sewing, I knew that material will gather up if one edge is made smaller than the other.  So I cast on, until my circular needle was comfortably full–so many stitches that I didn’t really want to count.  Then I increased in each one of those stitches (to make the ruffle).  My needles were now very crowded.  *I cast off about 20 stitches, then purled to the end of the row, and then knit back to where I cast off. *  I repeated the part between the stars until I had no more stitches left.  The ruffle is very thin at one end…

…and thicker on the other end.

The poor picture quality was due to post midnight photography with dim lighting.

I was eager to put the ruffles on a hat, so this morning, I knit them onto the hat as it was being constructed.  Again, there’s no real recipe for how to do this.  I knit together 4 stitches of ruffle with 4 stitches of hat each row.  Once I started to decrease, for the crown of the hat, the ruffles got really close together.  I think it looks like a rose from the top right now.  That’s because the ruffles are all curling up.

To fix the curling issue, I’ve decided on a rather tedious plan.  I’m knitting an i-cord border to the outside edge of the ruffle.  It will add weight, and hopefully also add tension to the outside stitches on the cast off edge.

It’s working!  But there’s still a long way to go.

I’m glad that right now, this is the most pressing issue of my day.

Tessellation Toque

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I’m rather struck by hexagons these days.

They are fun to knit, and can be made with many intricate designs, or stripes.  What’s really cool is that they can be joined together to form a flat surface.

Do you want to use up your yarn stash and make some hexagons too?  Here are my steps.

1. Cast on 6 stitches (this is what makes it a hexagon).

2. Increase one stitch in every stitch (I knit into the front and back of each stitch to do this) [12 stitches]

3. Kfb, K1 around [18 stitches]

4. Kfb, K2 around [24 stitches]

5. Kfb, K3 around [30 stitches]

Keep going, and you can make a really big hexagon!  I’ve made mine with 10 stitches per side [60 stitches around].

I’ve joined them up as I go to form a tube (it’s taken 12 hexagons so far).  Now I’m trying to figure out how to make hexagons curve into a dome shape to form the top of the hat.  I think some hexagons are going to be slightly misshapen to make this happen.

This project is fun because I can sit down and make a hexagon or two at a time, and see great progress being made.  Sometimes if you sit down and knit 6 rows on a hat, you don’t really see the difference.  The one thing I’m not looking forward to is the number of ends I’ll have to sew in to finish this hat, but I think the end result will be worth it!

Knit A Harry Potter Scarf

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

The seventh Harry Potter movie (part one of The Deathly Hallows) opens in theatres on November 19th.

You know that most people will dress up with their Hogwarts gear and make a party of the opening night experience.  Why not knit a scarf for yourself, or for a little (or not so little) Harry Potter fan that you know.

For the Muggles: Wizards like Harry Potter are educated at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  When they enter the school, a magical sorting hat reads their character and assigns them to certain houses which each have different colours and crests.

The houses are:


(gold and red)
values courage, bravery, loyalty, nerve and chivalry


(yellow and black)
values hard work, tolerance, loyalty, and fair play.


(blue and bronze)
values intelligence, creativity, learning, and wit


(green and silver)
values ambition, cunning, leadership and resourcefulness and most of all pure wizard blood

You can sort yourself by various web-based personality tests.  My results seem to say I’m a Hufflepuff.

The sorting hat says that I belong in Hufflepuff!

Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot, and treat them just the same.”

Once you know what house you’re in, you need to invest in some yarn in your house colours to make your scarf.  There are a few choices you’ll need to make.

Choice 1:  Which movie are you basing your scarf on?

VERSION A:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

VERSION B:  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The width of the stripes vary between the two films.  Your needle choices and yarn weight will dictate your gauge.  It’s up to you to change colours when it looks right.  Just be sure to keep note of how many rows you knit, to stay consistent.

These scarves are long.  The general rule for scarves is to make them as tall as the person who wears them.  These scarves are probably about six feet long, and being worn on young children.  For an authentic look on an adult, you’ll want to make the scarf at least 7 feet long.

VERSION A: Scarf is about 8-9 inches wide, and stripes are each about 6-7 inches.

VERSION B: Scarf is about 8-9 inches wide.  Main Colour 6 inches, 1/2 inch Contrasting colour, 1 inch Main Colour, 1/2 inch Contrasting Colour

Choice 2: Method of scarf construction.

To make a scarf that lays flat, there are two main options:

1.  Knit stockinette in the round (double thickness, so it takes twice as long and twice as much yarn but looks authentic to the films)

Cast on 100 stitches in Main Colour, join in the round and knit.  Change colours as needed to achieve the stripes.

2.  Make a flat ribbed scarf (not as authentic, but you can finish it faster)
Cast on 50 stitches in Main Colour.  Work in K1, P1 ribbing.  Change colours as needed to achieve the sripes.

No matter what scarf you make, you’ll need to save yarn for fringe at the end.

Here’s a nice video tutorial on “fringe making” by Judy

How To Design Stranded Mittens

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Last night I finished a pair of mittens that I started a while ago.  I love making mittens because they are portable projects, and a rather necessary accessory for the Canadian winter that is quickly approaching.  I like customizing colours and patterns and making sure that my cuffs are long enough.

Really warm mittens are often knit with a stranded pattern in two colours.  The stitch pattern usually includes a maximum of 4 or 5 stitches in a row of one colour.

I knit with a rather tight gauge, using 4mm double pointed needles and worsted weight yarn from Topsy farms.  My general recipe for stranded mittens is as follows:

Decide on a stitch pattern: Colour in some squares on graph paper being sure not to make more than 5 stitches in a row one colour.

Figure out how many stitches and rows are in your pattern repeat:  Choose one point in the pattern and count horizontally and vertically until you have mapped out a repeatable pattern block.

There are 4 stitches and 6 rows in this repeat

There are 6 stitches and 10 rows in this repeat

Decide on how many stitches to cast on: This should be a multiple of the number of stitches in one repeat, and it should fall somewhere between 48 stitches for size small to 54 stitches for size medium/large.

Using the first pattern, the cast on could be (4)(12)=48 or (4)(13)=52 or (4)(14)=56

In the second case it could be (6)(8)=48 or (6)(9)=54

Cast on: Use one colour, cast on the appropriate number of stitches and join in the round being careful not to twist.

Knit cuff: Join second colour and work until the cuff measures 2.5 to 3 inches (depending on your cuff preference).

Thumb Gusset:  Mittens are very form fitted at the cuff, and you need to increase stitches to account for the width of your hand at the thumb area.  The way to do this is to increase 2 stitches every alternate row on the thumb side of the mitten.  The increases will affect the stitch count, and the pattern repeat.  A good work-around is to change the patterning for the thumb gusset.  A checkerboard or striped pattern on the thumb is easy to do.

Continue until the gusset is  17-21 stitches depending on thumb size.  Keep gusset stitches on a stitch holder or piece of scrap yarn, and cast on a full repeat of stitches, or whatever is needed to maintain a consistent pattern across the hand.

Knit Hand: Keep knitting in pattern until the mitten fits up to your little finger.

Decreases: Put the mitten on your hand.  Mark the stitches at the little finger and index finger edges for decreases.  There should be equal numbers of stitches on the palm and back of the hand.

Keeping pattern consistent repeat the following two rows until approximately 16 stitches remain

Row 1:  knit until 2 stitches before the little finger edge.  K2tog in main colour, SSK in main colour.  Knit in pattern until 2 stitches before index finger edge.  K2tog in main colour, SSK in main colour.

Row 2: knit in pattern.  Use main colour over the 2 stitches on the little finger and index finger edges.

Kitchener stitch bind off. video credit: the knitwitch on youtube.

Thumb: pick up and knit (in pattern) the stitches from the scrap yarn/stitch holder, and stitches from the cast on edge around the thumb hole.  I often choose stitches that are not right on the edge of the thumb hole to avoid creating holes around the thumb.  The number of thumb stitches is not critical.  Make it fit your thumb.  Knit in pattern in the round until the thumb is 1.5 to 2 inches long.

Decreases: K2tog in pattern until around 6 stitches remain.  Cut yarn leaving a long tail.  Draw yarn through stitches and pull tight.

Weave in ends

Twitter To The Rescue

Monday, September 20th, 2010

This weekend I snapped…..

It was Spin In Public Day, and I was considering hauling my wheel out somewhere and spinning in the sunshine.  However, when I went to my wheel, I found that my drive band had snapped!  I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s someone or something sabotaging my spinning, but there’s no proof, and really nobody would spend that much time to cause me this much frustration.

I guess with enough stress for enough time anything (or anyone for that matter) will snap.

note to self (and others): do not leave a drive band under tension between spinning sessions.

I had replaced a drive band before (blogged), but didn’t really want to go searching for more tubing.  There’s got to be a way to fix this band.

What do you do when you’re looking for rather obscure specialized information? Last time when faced with this issue I looked up different suppliers and sent out a bunch of emails.  This time I tried something different.  I consulted Twitter!

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, it’s a social networking tool, a way to communicate with people in short (140 character) messages.  You can follow people who are interested in things you care about, and just about anyone can follow you too.  Sometimes you know people, sometimes you don’t, but if you are needing advice, there’s bound to be someone willing to offer their 2 cents to help you out.

I’ve been on Twitter for about a year, and I’ve developed a network of spinners and knitters whom I follow, and who follow me.  I threw out my query to the Twitterverse, and sure enough, within minutes, there was an answer!

@KLgrant1971 (from Wiltshire England) suggested the following ideas

“Pair of tights or a stocking like a fan belt repair? Super glue and duct tape?” and then added…

“I’m not a spinner, but hubby’s dad was a mechanic & I picked up a bit of knowledge by osmosis! Hope U find a solution! ;-)”

So….I set about fixing my drive band/finding a replacement.

First I tried to melt the ends of the current band, and stick them together.  Plastic melts right?  Is my drive band plastic?  It turns out that mine is rubber, and that does not melt.  It catches fire, and makes a stinky smoke and a hot ash, but doesn’t get sticky at all.  Rather disappointing!  (If you try this, be sure you have water on hand, and beware of the stink!)  I was glad my candle smells like cranberries.

Next I tried to tape the ends together.  I didn’t have duct tape, so I found the next best thing, really sticky scotch tape–this kind is really flexible, so I had high hopes.  I had to cut bits off of each end of the drive band due to the whole burning/stinky ash attempt.

For a while, things were looking good.  The tape held, but the loop made a clicking noise every time the tape went around the bobbin–I think the tape made the drive band too stiff in that area.  For a while, it became a self shifting mechanism as the band slid itself (against my wishes) from the largest part of the bobbin down to the middle size, then the smallest, and finally off of the bobbin entirely.  It was worse the faster I spun.  After a little troubleshooting and experimentation the whole band snapped once more, and not where the tape was!

Rather than patching the whole thing and trying again, I took a bit of a break.

After removing myself from the frustration for a while, I went back to my wheel today with a new approach.  Stockings!  I’m sure we all have a pair or two with a hole in them, tucked at the back of your top drawer because you knew that they’d be useful someday.

To repair a spinning wheel with stockings:

  1. cut off one leg of the stocking.
  2. cut that stocking leg in half from toe to top (don’t try to rip it, it will rip around the leg)
  3. Thread the stocking around the wheel where the drive band goes.
  4. Stretch the half stocking all around the wheel, and tie it so it will stretch to fit the bobbin.

Before declaring victory, I spun a bit yesterday and then again today just to be sure that it is still a working solution.  I am actually amazed at how well this works.  I don’t know how long lasting it is, but for now I’m back spinning again thanks to @KLgrant1971 on Twitter.

P.S.  I’m @sticksandstring on Twitter.  Feel free to follow me!

Has twitter ever helped you solve a problem?